Recently, Harper’s Bazaar China released their March 2013 cover featuring none other than Sarah Jessica Parker. Immediately, multiple sources posted the image and shouted, “Photoshop Disaster.”
This is a wonderful case study on the end result of a shoot. It’s not necessarily true that the only thing there is to blame is Photoshop.
Let’s analyze the image closely. There are a few key things that stand out to me. Down to the basics, her pose is very stiff and it comes through on her expression. Initially I can see how they thought it would be considered as confident but it didn’t translate well in the end.
Next, due to her bone structure, you can see that she has a very sharp face. Her angles can easily work against her, which it did. The choice of makeup may not have been the best option for her face.
The lighting compacts the problem and further accentuates the base problems.
Now when you finally throw retouching on top of it, no matter how good or bad the retoucher, the end result isn’t going to be saved.
So next time remember before looking at an image and wondering if it’s a Photoshop Disaster, there’s a lot more at stake than just Photoshop. It’s the photography, lighting, makeup, styling, choice of shot selection, direction, and the overall effort of the whole team.